Review – Ion Fury (Switch)

When Leo reviewed Ion Fury back in August 2019, he praised the game for being a retro blast to the past, a game that is undoubtedly designed for him. After finally getting my hands on the game’s brand new Switch port, I have to agree with everything he has said. I can safely say Ion Fury has made a successful transition to the handheld platform.

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Ion Fury is all about the gunplay.

Ion Fury is a game that doesn’t just harken back to the classic days of Duke Nukem 3D, it lives in it. The visuals, the sound design are built exactly like its predecessor, as it even runs on the same Build Engine from 1995. This will be down to personal taste, but I quite liked it. Nothing too flashy going on and it lets the excellent gameplay shine through.

No more waiting behind cover for an enemy to pop up. No more regenerating health, we’re back to the good old health pickups. No more repetitive escort missions. No cutscenes or exposition to slow you down. From the second you start Ion Fury to the second you finish it, you are in full control over the gameplay. Mostly going from point A to point B and killing everyone in your path. The gameplay is fast, fluid, and bloody challenging. Stop moving for too long and you will most likely die.

Levels are huge and give you no direction, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. You have to figure out where to go and how to get there, be it through a little bit of exploration or gathering key cards. All in all, the game will take you roughly ten to fifteen hours to complete, depending on what difficulty you play on and how thoroughly you explore. With tons of well hidden secrets to discover, you could spend a long time in Ion Fury.

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Environments can be huge.

However, there are some problems. Rampant difficulty spikes can be annoying, but what is worse is the lackluster boss fights. They don’t really provide any meaningful challenge and I didn’t have much fun with them. Thankfully, this is my only real problem with an otherwise excellent game.

Shelly Bombshell Harrison is our heroine of the story. She is a loudmouth, spitting out classic one-liners like it was a 90’s shooter. This is very much a mixed bag here, as it can get annoying after a while, but if you like the character of Duke Nukem, you will surely like Shelly. Unfortunately, the soundtrack isn’t very memorable.

Interestingly, the Switch version is locked at 30 frames per second, but only by default. Inputting the Konami code (up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A, Start) will unlock the frame rate and this will allow the Switch to run the game at 60fps. There’s the occasional hitch and stuttering, but other than that, it runs perfectly fine and doesn’t impact the enjoyment of the game. As expected, being a game running on a twenty year old engine, it does look a bit dated, but it’s still charming. It looks much better on a smaller screen, though.

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Our heroine.

Ion Fury is a total blast, as it doesn’t try to be anything other than a fun, challenging shooter. Giving a game like this a deep story or any other moment that isn’t comprised of killing enemies or solving puzzles would have been a detriment to its great gameplay loop and overall game design.

Graphics: 6.5

It might be pleasing to look at, but it is still based on an engine that stopped being relevant twenty years ago.

Gameplay: 9.0

Fast paced and fluid gameplay that feels great on the Switch, even with the joycons.

Sound: 6.0

The sound design is unmemorable and Shelly Bombshell is an annoying protagonist.

Fun Factor: 9.0

Ion Fury is a blast to the past that focuses on all the right gameplay elements and level of difficulty.

Final Verdict: 8.0

Ion Fury is available now on PC, Xbox One, PS4 and Switch.

Reviewed on Switch.

A copy of Ion Fury was provided by the publisher.

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